Primary pulmonary lymphoma (PPL) is an uncommon type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The majority of PPLs are of low-grade, mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue type. Primary pulmonary diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is extremely rare, and prompt diagnosis may be challenging since its clinical symptoms and signs are nonspecific. Although the clinical features, diagnostic procedures, optimal management and prognostic factors of this disease have not yet been well defined, open thoracotomy and chest computed tomography (CT)-guided percutaneous biopsy are the preferred methods used in previous studies. In the present case report, the diagnosis and management of a patient with primary pulmonary DLBCL is reported. A 68-year-old patient was admitted to hospital in May 2013, with complaints of shortness of breath and intermittent wheezing and a cough associated with the production of small amounts of phlegm. Following admission, chest CT scans revealed a mass in the right middle lobe with ground-glass opacities at the lesion margins, as well as air bronchograms in the areas of consolidation. Bronchoscopy was performed and revealed an endobronchial lesion and partial stenosis in the distal end of the middle segment bronchus. Transbronchial needle aspiration (TBNA) of the right hilar lymph node, as well as endobronchial biopsy, was performed. The patient was diagnosed with primary pulmonary DLBCL by subsequent histopathological and immunohistochemical analysis of biopsy specimens collected via TBNA. Following the final diagnosis, standard treatment with CHOP chemotherapy resulted in significant clinical and radiological response and the patient remained in remission 8 months later. These results indicate that TBNA may be an effective method for the diagnosis of primary pulmonary DLBCL.